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Bringing Discipleship Into Dating

by André Adefope

As the founder and director of a U.K. charity called Relationship Dilemma, one question I get asked a lot is: “Does God even care about how we date?” I think this question is vital.

In my experience, most Christians have two typical approaches to dating. Some reject dating completely and think it’s unholy and unredeemable. They wait for God to place “the one” in front of them and aim to jump from singleness to marriage.

These people tend to believe that God will sort out the mess. “I don’t need to worry about my temper because God will give me the perfect understanding partner, so it will be easy.” Or, “I can ignore my lusting issue, because God will stop it when he/she comes along.” Really?

Others believe Christians should date like everyone else: play the field, get experience, do what makes you happy. Eventually they will find the spark and settle down.

These people often think about their needs primarily, lead others on, reduce relationships to emotional highs, dump people when they want, and damage themselves and others.

Is this really “loving our neighbor”?

Dating Differently

The problem with both of these approaches is that ultimately they focus on the destination and not the journey.

The daters (and non-daters) don’t concern themselves with how they behave along the way because something else will sort it out. Be it God, fate or coincidence.

But what if God has a different, more exciting plan?

The Bible never mentions dating. However, we see in Scripture a God who neither wants us to conform to or avoid culture, but rather invade and transform it for His glory (Matthew 5:13-16; Romans 12:2).

His Word also teaches us to think about how we treat people and to focus on their needs and dignity (Philippians 2:3-4; Galatians 5:13-14).

Imagine if we as Christians dated, but did it with a different set of attitudes to everyone else. Not just looking for physical or emotional temporary highs, but we took dating seriously — sought mutual fulfillment and mutual enjoyment instead of using people for my selfish needs.

Everyone else would need to take notice.

I can’t promise the next person you date will be the one you marry or that you will never break up with someone again. But dating differently, in a way that stresses God’s value of people and integrity, must be the better option than the two views I mentioned earlier. Rather than reducing people to an “easy-fix for my problems” or “someone who will serve my needs,” we can think about growing together, loving our neighbor and showing grace as we invest in each other.

The triune God who exists in perfect relationships, who died on the cross so we could relate to Him, who invented relationships and transforms cultures, must have a better plan and something worth saying about how we date and how we can change our dating culture for His glory.

Why Do We Date?

Dating differently and transforming a dating culture might sound very heavy, so let me stop to say I want you to enjoy dating. I really do.

I think God wants us to enjoy dating, but not at other people’s expense.

Dating differently means asking questions that put God’s Word at the center, thinking about what God says. Whether we’re single or dating, we can think about questions like:

  • Why am I dating, or why do I want to date? Because I’m bored, because everyone else is, or because I want to invest in someone?
  • Why did my past relationships not work? What would I do differently?
  • Am I expecting the person I date to be perfect and sort out all of my mess? Am I developing my character?
  • How can I be less selfish in my relationships/friendships?

Instead of avoiding dating or doing it like everyone else, by concerning ourselves with loving God and our neighbour, we could transform dating. We could reduce the hurt and confusion people experience and truly enjoy building a relationship with someone worth investing in.

I hope this excites you and is more appealing than what the current culture offers. I hope you continue to ask questions and bring discipleship into dating, enable people to take relationships seriously in a way that brings mutual fulfilment and mutual enjoyment. These types of dating relationships put God’s calling and commands at the center.

André Adefope is a co-author of The Dating Dilemma and founder of Relationship Dilemma. To read a free sample of the book and find other dating resources, go to

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